Musician Brian Cook (Russian Circles, SUMAC) has announced his debut album as Torment & Glory. Titled We Left a Note with an Apology, the album will be out on August 27th on digital formats on August 27th with vinyl format arriving on/around October 15th via Sargent House.
Along with the album announcement, Cook has shared the video for the song, “No Big Crime”. Despite the songs being written over the span of ten+ years, there’s a connective thread to the lyrics on We Left a Note with an Apology. Cook recalls teenage memories, reminisces about first apartments and on the album’s first single, “No Big Crime” he grapples with the ethics of shoplifting. He comments, “All the songs are a reflection on youth and the reckless behavior that serves as a rite of passage. It’s a way of atoning for some of the more aimless acts of rebellion I dabbled in during my young adult years.”
Listen to “No Big Crime” and watch the video for it, directed by Bobby Markos / Documavision, below:
The Torment & Glory project was put on indefinite hiatus. Yet even with the recording project on hold, guitar ideas and song fragments kept coming. While Russian Circles and SUMAC provided crucial creative outlets for Cook, there was a deep appreciation for the singer-songwriter tradition that wasn’t a component to either band. These bits and pieces gradually started resembling songs. But any plan to resurrect Torment & Glory was thoroughly squashed in 2019 when Cook’s voice abruptly disappeared one day. “It’s just one of those things,” the doctors said. “Maybe your voice will come back tomorrow. Maybe it’ll come back in a few months. But be prepared; it may not come back at all.”
It wound up being the second scenario—Cook’s voice was gone for six months, though it never fully returned to normal. “My voice still cracks and warbles in certain note ranges,” Cook says. “It seemed like a good idea to try to rehabilitate my voice by singing, so I started adding vocals to the little fingerpicking melodies I’d developed over the years.” Then COVID hit. Suddenly there was an abundance of time. Home recording became the only viable option for staying busy with Russian Circles, but it was a skill set Cook lacked. It was under these conditions—needing to refine his aptitude with recording software, needing to rehabilitate his voice, needing to keep his guitar chops up, needing to stay busy to avoid despair—that the Torment & Glory project resurfaced.
The official recording of We Left a Note with an Apology began on December 21st, 2020—winter solstice—with Cook tracking all the instruments (acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, bass, synth) and vocals at home. Cook’s friend Ben Chisholm (Chelsea Wolfe) offered to mix the album, and the results boosted the project from Cook’s initial intentions of self-releasing it as a small run of limited-edition cassettes into a broader release through his longstanding label and management at Sargent House.
We Left a Note with an Apology artwork & tracklist:
1. The Burning Car
2. Boylston and Pike
3. No Big Crime
4. Dusk on Main
5. The Kick Drum
6. Mexican Hat, Utah
7. All Men Forever